Skip to main content

Full text of "My country and my people"

See other formats


IDEALS    OF   LIFE                          IO5
moderation is chungho, meaning "not extreme and harmonious," and the Chinese word for restraint is chieti, which means "control to proper degree." In the Shuking (Book of History), supposed to contain the earliest Chinese political documents, the advice of Emperor Yao, on his abdication, to Emperor Shun was "Hold the mean!" Mencius said of another ideal emperor, Tang, that he "held the mean." It is said that this emperor used to "listen to both extremes of counsel and then apply the mean to the people," which means that he would listen to two contradictory propositions, and give a fifty-percent discount of each. So important is the Doctrine of the Golden Mean to the Chinese that they have called their own country the "Middle Kingdom/5 It is more than a geographical notion: it signifies a way of life which, by holding on to the mean, the normal and the essentially human, claims, as the old scholars did, that they have discovered all the essential truths of all schools of philosophy.
The Doctrine of the Golden Mean covers all.and envelops all. It dilutes all theories and destroys all religions. In an argument with a Buddhist priest who is probably able to spin out an absolute proof of the non-existence of matter and the futility of life, a Confucianist would simply say, in his matter-of-fact and illogical way, "What would become of the world, the state and the human race if everybody left his home and entered a monastery like you?" That illogical but supremely sensible appeal to life has a clinching force of its own. Not only against Buddhism, but against all religions and all theories, the test of life holds. We cannot afford to be logical. In fact, all theories have become theories only by certain ideas developing into a psychosis in the minds of their founders. The Freudian complex is Freud himself, and the Buddhist complex is Buddha. All such theories, whether of Freud or of Buddha, seem to be based on an exaggerated illusion. The sufferings of mankind, the troubles of married life, the sight of a sore-ridden beggar or the pains and groanings of a sick man, which to us common men are no sooner felt than healthily forgotten, must have struck Buddha's hyper-sensitive nerves with a force which gave him the vision of a Nirvana. Confucianism, on the other hand, is the religion of the common man, who cannot afford to be